NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 30, 2008

The race industry and its elite enablers take it as self-evident that high black incarceration rates result from discrimination, says Heather Mac Donald, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow.

After all:

  • In 2006, blacks were 37.5 percent of all state and federal prisoners, though they're under 13 percent of the national population.
  • About one in 33 black men was in prison in 2006, compared with one in 205 white men and one in 79 Hispanic men.
  • Some 11 percent of all black males between the ages of 20 and 34 are in prison or jail.

The favorite culprits for high black prison rates include a biased legal system, draconian drug enforcement and even prison itself.  None of these explanations stands up to scrutiny, says Mac Donald.  However the black incarceration rate is overwhelmingly a function of black crime. Insisting otherwise only worsens black alienation and further defers a real solution to the black crime problem.

For example:

  • In 2005, the black homicide rate was more than seven times higher than that of whites and Hispanics combined, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  • From 1976 to 2005, blacks committed more than 52 percent of all murders in America.
  • In 2006, the black arrest rate for most crimes was two to nearly three times blacks' representation in the population.
  • Blacks constituted 39.3 percent of all violent-crime arrests, including 56.3 percent of all robbery and 34.5 percent of all aggravated-assault arrests, and 29.4 percent of all property-crime arrests.

The evidence is clear: Black prison rates result from crime, not racism, says Mac Donald.  The dramatic drop in crime in the 1990s, to which stricter sentencing policies unquestionably contributed, has freed thousands of law-abiding inner-city residents from the bondage of fear.  The continuing search for the chimera of criminal-justice bigotry is a useless distraction that diverts energy and attention from the crucial imperative of helping more inner-city boys stay in school -- and out of trouble.

Source: Heather Mac Donald, High Incarceration Rate of Blacks Is Function of Crime, Not Racism," Investor's Business Daily, April 28, 2008.


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